Listening to “A Dance to the Music of Time” is like hearing someone reminisce about his life – school years, vacations, parties, people he knew, etc. The first-person narrator, Nick Jenkins, talks a lot, but his recollections don’t go anywhere. There’s little plot, no drama, sporadic thoughtful observations, but, overall, no real insight to be gained.
As for the audio book narrator, Simon Vance, I have listened to his works probably a dozen times, and I don’t think this lilting, sonorous performance is his best. He needed to slow down and enunciate. I found that every time I started listening to this book, my mind wandered, and it became background noise. Frankly, for several weeks, I used it to lull myself to sleep at night, without feeling any real need, the next day, to rewind passages to find out what I’d missed.
P.G. Wodehouse's funny and entertaining novel is perfectly performed by Jonathan Cecil. He definitely makes Wodehouse's comedy sparkle. I recommend it 100 percent.
An excellent narrator cannot redeem Trollope's maudlin tale of failed romance between a bad man and the puritanical, delusional woman who inexplicably loves him. The crux of the story is told in the first two hours; the remaining five hours are devoted to the characters' interminable vacillating. From the endless moping - and and pointless hoping - of Trollope's reality-challenged heroine, I conclude that upperclass women of this era had way too much free time ... to think about themselves. Listen at your own risk.
One of Dickens' shorter novels, "Hard Times" is uncomplicated, easy to follow, and one of the author's more melancholy works. It is filled with memorable characters and is extremely moving. Simon Prebble, an always excellent narrator, adds tremendously to the pleasure of this audiobook and brings this piece of moral literature beautifully to life.
The novel begins with an investigation into the relationship between the accidental death of a munitions tycoon and his complex business empire. Gradually it devolves into a sordid potboiler. High finance, double-crossing, prostitution, espionage, s?ances, adultery, drug use, insanity, murder -- this much sensational subject matter ought to produce a ripping tale, not one that numbs the listener with tedious details and irrelevant diversions of plot.
The story becomes more and more confusing with later parts contradicting earlier parts. The ending to the mystery is revealed (not discovered), something of a letdown, and so long in coming that it fails to shock.
All the narrators are excellent though. They are the only reason I gave this two stars.
This ripping yarn is a first-rate historical novel and a gripping mystery, read by the excellent Simon Vance. Usually, I don't care for blending fact and fiction, but this one pulled it off through a complex, tangled plot and expert storytelling. I couldn't recommend it more highly!
A 60-year-old Anglican monk, known for his psychic powers, loses a promotion to a despised rival, then has a vision he interprets as God directing him to leave his order. What happens next, I cannot say, because after seven hours of listening to the monk undergo a cruel, humiliating, and tortuous psychoanalysis by his rival, all for the purpose of determining whether the vision is legitimately divine, I could not take anymore.
It certainly gave me a better appreciation for doctor-patient confidentiality, because there are some human functions I don't care to hear about in minute detail (like whether a celibate old man ejaculates after having a religious vision or gets an erection when a younger woman kisses him on the cheek). I'm sorry to be so coarse, but if you buy this book, you should understand that this is what you're in for and steel yourself to endure much unpleasant discussion on the baser aspects of human nature. For me, it was a nasty experience (as in masochistic, mean-spirited, and pointless), but others apparently enjoy it. I wish I could get my credit back.
Intermittently enjoyable and frequently frustrating, "The Whiskey Rebels" tells fictional history through two characters - Captain Ethan Saunders, a disgraced but witty scoundrel, and Joan Maycott, a pioneer wife, authoress, feisty rebel, and the desire of every man she meets. Most of the energy comes from Saunders - a truly great character, down but not out, as naughty as he is hilarious. Unfortunately, he has to share space with the implausible and self-righteous Mrs. Maycott. Real historical figures fall flat (strangely, Alexander Hamilton is the only character who speaks with contractions like "don't" and "can't"). The heavy-handed villains are not merely possessed with vices like greed and avarice: they must also be rapists, wife-beaters, child abusers, slave molesters, sexual perverts, adulterers, and cold-blooded murderers. The excellent narrator, Christopher Lane, imbues the story with more life and energy than it musters on its own. He alone kept me listening when I was well prepared to give up on the sluggish plot.
Amoral art dealer/assassin Charlie Mordecai is Bertie Wooster as imagined by, say, Elmore Leonard. The P.G. Woodehouse connection is made even more obvious by the fact that the excellent reader, Simon Prebble, also narrates some of the "Leave it to Jeeves" stories. The story is trashy, outlandish, and funny in the style of pulp fiction or a graphic novel. The plot is sometimes perplexing and not worth sorting out. "After You" is not the least bit edifying, but it is mindlessly entertaining.
"Captains Courageous" is less adventure story and more about the daily lives of fishermen off northeastern United States. In it, a millionaire's son becomes a man through his accidental indoctrination into hard work, responsibility, and danger. It is an engaging and well-written story that preserves a unique slice of American life, and the reader is excellent. And at a little over 5 hours, it is "just long enough."
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